The clothing you wear at the gym plays an important part in how productive and enjoyable your workouts are and while going to the gym doesn’t have to be a fashion show, it pays to wear clothes that will help and not hinder your efforts.
Not so many years ago, gym clothing was limited to shorts and T-shirts or maybe a nylon tracksuit but, thankfully, gym clothing technology has come a long way since then.
Firstly, consider your underwear. Your regular underwear is probably not suitable for wearing in the gym; especially if you are doing a high impact activity like running on the treadmill. Regular underwear is usually made of cotton which means it absorbs sweat like a sponge. This can make it ride up and rub which can be very uncomfortable. Cotton is also not especially elastic which means it does not stretch as you move and is not especially supportive.
In contrast, sports underwear is supportive, does not soak up sweat like cotton can, will not bunch up and make you uncomfortable and usually has flat seams to prevent abrasions. All in all, proper sports underwear makes for a much more comfortable workout.
Workout socks are also different to regular socks. Made from manmade materials that “wick” sweat away from your skin and with no raised seams that would cause blisters, sports socks are often padded to further enhance comfort.
A relatively new development in workout attire is compression clothing. Compression clothing can be worn as an outer or inner layer as preferred and does what the name suggests; it compasses your muscles. This helps provide warmth and support and can also cut down on muscle vibration which, studies suggest, can contribute to fatigue. Compression clothing is also useful for speeding the recovery of minor injuries. If skin-tight clothing is not your idea of good fashion, remember that you can wear more conservative workout clothes over compression garments for a less hard-core appearance.
In terms of outer layers, there is a huge choice of clothing available to choose from. Gone are the days of cotton t-shirts and baggy, saggy, cotton shorts! Modern gym clothing is light, wicks away sweat so you stay dry and comfortable, stretches to allow easy movement and washes and dries easily. Some garments are even impregnated with anti-bacterial materials such as silver which cut down on odours!
With so many garments available, you are free to choose from long sleeves to short sleeves to sleeveless tops and full length workout pants to shorts. Mix and match your workout clothes to suit the workout you are doing. For example, if you are doing a leg workout, shorts make sense so you can keep cool but a long sleeve top will help keep your upper body warm. And as far as colours go, black has never and will never be out of style but you also have the freedom to wear very brightly coloured clothes too.
The main thing to consider when deciding what to wear to the gym is comfort and that often means thinking in layers. Layers allow you to control your body temperature easily so you are never too cold or too warm.
For example, on a cold day, you might wear a track suit or workout pants and a hoodie to the gym and for your warm up. You might even keep these outer layers on for the first couple of sets of your workout until you feel really warm. Then, as your body temperature rises and to avoid overheating, you could strip off your hoodie and workout pants to reveal a long sleeve top and shorts. As your workout progresses and you get warmer still, you may remove your long sleeve top and complete your workout wearing a vest or compression short-sleeved top. Once your workout is over and it’s time to stretch, rather than get cold, you can put your layers back on. None of this temperature regulation would have been possible if you hadn’t dressed in layers.
As well as matching your clothes to your workout, you should choose your shoes based on your workout too. Running shoes are great for running (obviously!) but if you are doing multi-directional exercises then you would be better off wearing a shoe with a less pronounced heel and plenty of lateral support such as a racquet sport shoe. If heavy weights are more your game, a flat, supportive and non-compressible shoe is your best choice. The right workout clothing can make your gym sessions much more comfortable and being comfortable frees you to concentrate on the exercises you are performing. The right workout clothes can really enhance your gym time.
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